Two poems by Rodney Nelson:
On poetry readings: They said I had a good voice, so I used it live and on radio (KPFA Berkeley, Minnesota Public Radio) once in a while. This was in the wake of the Beats. But how could I go on subscribing to the notion that the essence of poetry was oral when my best times with it happened alone and in private? I write as one individual to another, not to a crowd, and read a poem in the same manner. It’s the mind’s ear that takes in the mind’s voice of the poet. This is how subtleties get through.
On turning away from, then back to, poetry: After an extended non-diligent span of life, I restarted as a poet not too long ago (had just cut off my white whiskers because they made me look patriarchal). I used not to mind editing lit-mags and reading in public and meeting other poets. Now I’m indifferent. The poems are new and many. Except for being outside on foot, that’s all I care about. My own career as an employed citizen was a masquerade. I wanted to create something in words or music—words, more probably—and had no idea how to earn a living. So began a decades’-long run from worksite to worksite. It was when I retired from the stage role of employed citizen that the real work began. My mask came off. After twenty-two years, there was a backlog of unwritten poems that I hadn’t known about. I tried to catch up, then went on to more. Evidently, I am here to write poems and send them out, and nothing else matters much. I know contentment, but it does not have to do with any schools, publications, degrees, awards, or jobs. Unlike the person in the usual note, I’m not qualified to write. I still manage to fall in love, and my relationship with nature keeps improving, all of which furthers the poetry.
Rodney Nelson’s work began appearing in mainstream journals long ago; but he turned to fiction and did not write a poem for twenty-two years, restarting in the 2000s. He has worked as a copy editor in the Southwest and now lives in the northern Great Plains. Recently published chapbook and book titles are Metacowboy, Mogollon Rim, Hill of Better Sleep, Felton Prairie, and In Wait. His poetry is forthcoming in Issue One of Vilas Avenue.
See his page in the Poets & Writers directory: http://www.pw.org/content/rodney_nelson